The whole truth about anonymity in the Internet

When you connect to the internet, there’s this perception that you’re invincible and you’re completely anonymous but how true is that? Is anyone ever truly anonymous on the internet? If you think about it from an outside perspective, it sure seems that way. Everyone is just some online digital spec and we all can connect with each other using digital optic lines.

However, that’s not reality. It wasn’t reality two decades ago and it’s nowhere near reality today. The internet has blessed us with:

  • Memes which are funny to a lot of people for some reason
  • Things that give you something to do while you’re at work and need to kill some time
  • A way to cheat on your home work or download answers for an upcoming test
  • A place to play games online with other people you may or may not know from all over the world

And many more

However, with that being said, there’s a price. Your anonymity. Just because you try to hide your information and you’re careful with what you put on the internet doesn’t mean you’re truly ever anonymous. Anonymity on the internet doesn’t actually exist.

The Internet is a Dangerous Place

You’ve probably seen the countless news stories and horror stories about people who would log into random websites or play online games and interact with people, only to end up meeting them in real life and things going horribly awry. There’s also those online dating sites which allows people to setup real life meetings in the hopes of falling in love.

So, the internet can be a rather dangerous place but that’s only because there’s a lot of crazy people out there. Does that mean the internet’s really any more dangerous than just walking around in broad day light? Crazy people don’t restrict their craziness to the internet, they’re always crazy regardless of where they are. Also, the internet is often used as a target point when something bad happens with people immediately pointing the finger at the usage of the internet as a whole.

Keeping Yourself Safe Online

There are a lot of resources on anonymity on internet and how you can keep yourself that way. However, you can’t fool proof yourself to be 100% anonymous because it’s just not possible. Let’s start with the most obvious culprit here and why so many people can’t be kept anonymous.

Facebook

Believe it or not, this social media giant is a good reason as to why most people can’t be kept anonymous. If you have ever had a Facebook account in the past or if you have one now, then a lot of people and a lot of companies have your information whether you like it or not. A lot of people think they’re being careful when they make private profiles and while this is a good start, it’s not enough. Facebook is fundamentally flawed and Mark Zuckerberg had to even go through a senate hearing just to defend his platform.

Facebook was living proof that anonymity in the internet will never actually be accomplished. So, how do so many people get access to people’s private information on Facebook?

  • First, there’s the obvious which is your first and last name. A lot of people can easily just Google your first and last name, such as “John Doe” and find a lot of information about you (which Facebook more than likely provided).
  • A lot of people didn’t know this but when they provided Facebook their personal phone number, Facebook was simply putting it in their About me section which is easily seen by anyone unless you specifically set your profile to not show anyone your phone number.
  • Just like above, the same thing goes with your address, your place of work and other private details that you definitely don’t want anyone else getting a hold of.
  • Even more bizarre, Facebook allowed stalkers and creeps to easily see who memes of your family were, so if you had children or siblings attached to your name, they could easily find out who they were and dig into their profiles for more information.

Then, there’s the advertisers. Facebook is infamous for selling people’s data for advertising. With the size of the site becoming so massive, Facebook didn’t quite know what to do. So, what should a young Mark Zuckerberg do? He had to monetize the site somehow and the ads were already being rolled out to do that but that clearly wasn’t enough. So, Facebook was digging into people’s personal information and displaying ads based on that information.

Also, people started getting tailored emails and some people even got tailored robocalls with information from their profile trying to sell them products.

How Do You Keep Yourself Anonymous on Facebook?

If anonymity on the internet must be protected, then it must start with Facebook. The short answer is, you really can’t. You can do whatever you want but Facebook will still always have access to that information and if you’ve ever had an account at one time, then there’s no telling how many sites out there still have access to your information that displays it publicly.

  • The first and most obvious step is to just simply delete Facebook. Let’s be honest, it’s just old people and people posting their long-winded political opinions at this point anyways. You see a lot of older people posting long rants and you probably want to end up un-friending half of the people on there anyways.
  • The next step if you don’t want to delete it is to make sure you do not put any of your sensitive information on the network. This includes your phone number, your home address, your place of work, where you live or anything like that. After knowing what kind of information Facebook sells and has on you, there’s no reason to have that on there.
  • Only keep the people on there that are close friends and family. Remove anyone else you don’t feel safe or comfortable sharing information with.
  • Do not click any links or accept messages from strangers. Their options pages change frequently but you can request that no one outside of your friends list be able to send you any messages and you shouldn’t be accepting those kinds of messages anyways.

Anonymity on The Internet Pros and Cons

Let’s talk about something of the things you can do on the internet in peace without the worry of hackers or anyone getting into your personal data.

The Pros

  • First, you can browse the internet at ease and no one will know who you are, which is why anonymity is needed. Remember, there’s a lot of weird freaks out there.
  • When you play video games online, people can get a little bit over-competitive and you never know who you’re going to anger. If you’re not anonymous, you never know what someone across the world will do just because they lost an online game.
  • You can feel safe and relaxed knowing that no matter what you’re doing, it would take an enormous amount of effort to find out who you were.

The Cons

  • Sometimes, anonymity comes at a price, such as websites selling your personal data.

Does A Proxy Help Make Me Anonymous?

Yes, yes it does. However, this only helps to a certain extent and there’s still other measures you yourself need to take to keep yourself off the radar. A proxy can hide your IP address and there’s a lot of things that people can do with your IP address. Once a hacker or someone up to no good has your IP address, it allows them to zoom in much closer to an area that you might be located in and puts the machine you’re using in at risk.

The Government

It’s not a conspiracy theory to say that the government goes to great lengths to spy on their people. Certain sub-sections of the government have built huge buildings solely devoted to spying on everyone and intercepting internet traffic. To the extent of how well all of that works is yet to be seen but it’s ignorant to say that the technology simply isn’t there because it is.

If there’s another thing that the government loves, it’s money. Much like greedy corporations, the government has absolutely no problem selling some of your crucial data to outside entities or companies. Do you ever wonder why you get so many weird robo calls for things you never signed up for and have never put your number online? At one point, whether it’s the phone company, a social media account or the government, your number was sold to someone.

It’s really sad to think we live in a world where all can’t just be anonymous and happy but with so many people looking to do bad out there, anonymity is essential and it’s something that needs to be improved upon. It has to start with social media giants first.

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